Sport

SOJ bouyed by SDF's 'special' $2m grant

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 22, 2013    

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Special Olympics Jamaica (SOJ) were boosted ahead of Thursday's trip to the 2013 World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, thanks to a $2m cheque from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

SOJ executive director Lorna Bell, who received the cheque yesterday on the organisation's behalf, described the commitment from the SDF as "good investment" towards athletes who have undergone exhaustive preparations.

"Thank you SDF... I can assure you this is a good investment. These athletes are well prepared and they have been working extremely hard. This is their world and I am happy that the Sports Development Foundation also understands the importance of inclusion," Bell said.

The Special Olympic Games provide the opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to display their skills and capabilities and targets the breaking down of barriers that exclude them from mainstream society.

The disabilities can either be acquired or genetic and can include cases of cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, traumatic brain injury and autism.

The Jamaica team, consisting of 18 athletes, will compete in floor hockey and ice figure skating at the January 29 to February 5 Winter event.

A total of 16 players will participate in hockey, while two contestants will tackle the novelty of figure skating.

The two skaters - Nigel Davis and Tamra Mitchell - departed for Florida last week for a seven-day camp and are scheduled to join the rest of the delegation in New York on Thursday.

Charmaine Hanson, acting general manager of the SDF, noted that the donation to the SOJ was an extension of the close partnership between both entities and added that the competitors are to be lauded for their bravery in the face of new challenges.

"We at the SDF continue the support of Special Olympics Jamaica by providing a grant of $2m to facilitate their participation in the World Winter Games in South Korea.

"At these Games the athletes will participate in a new event -- figure skating -- and the courage, discipline and commitment of these athletes must be acknowledged and encouraged. The Sports Development Foundation wishes the team every success at these Games," Hanson said.

Meanwhile, Bell expressed gratitude to Olympian Grace Jackson for providing a link to Team Jamaica Bickle founder and CEO Irwine Clare, whose organisation will welcome the Special Olympians during their stop in New York.

The United States-based charity organisation has helped to provide meals, subsidised airfare, accommodation and various transportation arrangements for persons participating at events in that country and also facilitates the disbursement of stipends for athletes studying abroad.

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